I have a hard time getting documentation of priors from the feds. Is there a central administrative office that handles requests for Federal judgements and sentences, as there is for Texas pen packs? Or do we just have to track down the original court and put our request in there?
It seems to be more difficult to obtain a federal commitment order - for one thing you have to pay for them - I've had a lot of luck obtaining the identical records from the actual Bureau of Prison facility the defendant served his time. They may request a fax letter, but have always been more help than the Federal District Clerk's Offices. The other alternative is to get your local federal agent, FBI, U.S. Marshal, ATF etc to get a copy from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Actually, if your CCH tells you the last institution where your defendant was confined, you can contact the ISM at that facility and they will send you a pen packet upon written request. You can go to the Bureau of Prisons web page and search for your defendant's registration number for the federal system. I usually get a two to three week turnaround, or less, when I contact the facility directly.
The F.C.I. is primo contact. There are other choices if you need to play ball.
Soft Ball: If you have a contact in the U. S. Attorney's Office in the jurisdiction where you are interested, they can usually obtain certified copies promptly and without cost.
Hard Ball: Given the budget considerations after the last legislature it may not work as well as it did long ago, but I once dropped a subpoena duces tecum on a U. S. District Clerk to come to a remote location in Texas. When the phone call came, I politely explained that I still had problems paying for the certified copies, but I had State money to pay her way and her stay in scenic rural Texas. Her response was not positive, but I encouraged her to consult counsel. There was no further communication, but I promptly got certified copies. I don't recommend this, but in extremis even President Clinton folded his cards when subpoenaed.